{Lesen} We Don't Need Roads: The Making of the Back to the Future TrilogyAutor Caseen Gaines – Albawater.co

NJ Advance LandovCONTENTSINTRODUCTIONThursday, January , Murphys Lawnoun The theory that, moments before an interview with Robert Zemeckis, ones audio recorder will malfunctionAt nine months into the research phase for this book, I knew I had put off calling Robert Zemeckis as long as I could I was nervous about speaking with the creative brain behind some of my favorite films like Forrest Gump, Who Framed Roger Rabbit, and, of course, that epic time travel trilogy There were a million things I wanted to query him about, most of them having to do with the project I was working on It wasnt so much that I was starstruck by the prospect of speaking with him, but when you have a chance to chat with a visionary whose work you respect and admire, it has a way of putting you on edgeOr, at least, thats what I attribute my feelings to in hindsight More likely it was because I had tangible evidence of the benefit of having Robert Zemeckisor Bob Z, as hes known to friends, colleagues, and Back to the Future aficionadoson board for this book A few weeks earlier, when I reached out to Christopher Lloyds manager, he asked me if Zemeckis was on board A line was drawn in the sand The day I spoke to the director would be the day an interview would be scheduled with the DocChallenge accepted I hung up the phone with Lloyds rep and retrieved the index card with Zemeckiss agents phone number written on it, a three by five piece of card stock that had been haunting me ever since Id scribbled on it four months earlier Without jumping through too many hoops, I got a hold of Zemeckiss assistant, who promptly scheduled a half hour interview for us, with only one request We respectfully ask that you contain the time to the thirty minutes which we have allotted No big deal, I thought, until a week later when it was six minutes before our scheduled interview and the software I use to record Skype calls on my computer stopped workingIt was PM Pacific Standard Time I was based on the East Coast, but had grown accustomed to working my day around what I reductively referred to as Los Angeles Time Each second becameandimportant There was no way I was going to call Bob Z late Bob GBob Gale, cowriter and coproducer of Back to the Future and its subsequent sequelshad told me that Zemeckis rarely does interviews on his past work His reps words raced through my head, an LED sign outside the New York Stock Exchange Slowly at first, and then faster and faster, with the print getting larger and largerTHIRTY MINUTES WHICH WE HAVE ALLOTTED THIRTY MINUTES WHICH WE HAVE ALLOTTED THIRTY MINUTES THIRTY MINUTES MINUTES MINUTES By, I was stuck with no choice but to use my plan B I took out my cell phone, deleted a few apps to ensure I had a surplus of memory, and called Zemeckis from my computer, silently praying the microphone on my handheld device was catching everything I had consolidated all of my questions into six or seven bullet points of topics, deciding it might be easier to let the colloquy unfold naturally, while making sure I got what I needed within the confines of his schedule And everything did work Not only was the director a pleasure to speak with, but he was also refreshingly direct about his thoughts on the films and his contributions to cinema in general Of the many takeaways from our conversation, the most substantial was his continuing pride and astonishment with the enduring legacy of a story that he and Gale had createdthan three decades earlier, which wouldnt have seen the light of day were it not for their tenacity and unwavering commitment to their projectSet up a Google alert for the words Back to the Future and a day wont go by without a headline from someplace in the world using the title, often without having any connection to the film Like Jaws a decade earlier, Future set a new precedent for how to create a winning summer blockbuster As Bob Gale likes to remind aspiring screenwriters, the three things that matter most in a story are characters, characters, and characters For all of its special and visual effects, the true success of the film lies with Zemeckis and Gales airtight script, and the distinctive characters that were brought to life by their talented cast For the thirty years that followed the first films release, the trilogy has continued to capture the imagination of a generation who, in turn, passed these movies on to their children like beloved family heirloomsIm just young enough to have missed the films theatrical run, but thanks to one of my auntswho had what seemed like hundreds of VHS tapes when I was growing upI had the fortunate and, for many Future fans, rare experience of being introduced to Hill Valleys inhabitants for the first time in a triple feature It was a school day, but I had a slight fever and was sent home by the school nurse With both of my parents at work, my Aunt Stacey, who worked nights, picked me up I think youll enjoy these, she said as I sat on her couch under a blanket with some chicken soup beside me I doubt she had any idea just how much I would She put the first film in the VCR as I studied the cardboard sleeve of the box The design, with that guy I recognized from TV with one foot in this strange vehicle and fire running between his legs, seemed magical I couldnt stop studying it, looking for clues about what was going to unfold over the next few hours I knew I was in store for a movie unlike anything I had seen before As the end credits for the first and second installments started, I raced to switch the cassettes, trying my best to continue the story as quickly as possible When the words THE END appeared on the screen in the last moments of Part III, I decided to let the credits roll in their entirety By the time my mother came to pick me up, my fever was all but forgotten I couldnt wait to go to school the next day and tell my friends about Marty McFly, his friend Doc Brown, and the wild adventures I had spent close to six hours watching them get intoI have always been an avid reader of behind the scenes books about my favorite films and television shows, as they went into greater detail than the standard promotional making of shows that would occasionally pop up on television in the late s and early s As the thirtieth anniversary of Back to the Future approached, I couldnt believe that a comprehensive book on the making of one of the most culturally significant movies of the past three decades had yet to be written My goal was to change that, not only by chronicling the filmmaking process, but also by showing how these three films left an indelible stamp on the United States and many other countries around the worldWhen I set out to write this book, it was important for me to speak with as many people who were associated with Back to the Future as possible The trilogy has been well documented for the past thirty years, in magazines, fan clubs, featurettes on VHS, DVD, and Blu ray, and countless websites like BacktotheFuture, the digital hub for all things about the franchise As one person put it to me, What else can you say about a movie that has been written about continuously for the past thirty years But even with that abundance of information available, the mythology always felt somewhat incomplete to me Too few people had retold the same stories too many times A lot of the behind the scenes tales have become so commonplace, whether or not you know them has become a pseudo litmus test among the diehards to determine how big a fan of the film a new member of their tribe is And I had a feeling that these stories may have been missing some of their original verveThroughout the researching process, I found that my suspicions were true Many of the anecdotes that have been repeated over the years had been scrubbed clean, condensed to omit significant details, and or told with minimal context While interviewing my subjects, I encouraged them to push beyond their stock stories and really remember the past Or, perhapsappropriately, the Future And they did I could feel people discovering things they had long since forgotten, often with startling accuracy Its difficult for someone to remember everything they did last week, let alone three decades ago, but thepeople I spoke to, thestories were corroborated, and a comprehensive picture of what it was like to be a part of the team that made cinematic history became clearerAs I learned working on my previous two books, there is rarely a person who works on a film who hasnt accumulated an interesting anecdote or two To that end, I was fortunate that so many people found it worth their time to spare a few minutes for me In addition to Robert Zemeckis, Bob Gale, and Christopher Lloyd, whose manager came through on his promise,than fifty additional people from all facets of production, including actors, producers, members of the camera crew, editors, graphic artists, costumers, and those involved with special and visual effects, signed on to make this project the largest Back to the Future reunion ever assembled I also spoke with some people who didnt work on the movies, but who are experts on the trilogys impact, including movie critics, documentarians, and fans who have gone beyond the call of duty to keep the embers glowing for their favorite franchiseIn writing this book, I relied heavily onthan five hundred hours of interviews I conducted over a twenty one month period All of the quotes that appear in the pages that follow come from those conversations Some of the quotes have been corrected for clarity, which was done extremely judiciously and with significant care for each interview subject In scenes where conversations are reconstructed, the dialogue comes either from the account of one person or the synthesis ofthan one persons recollection of events All of the information included has either been corroborated against other sources or reflects what had likely happened based on my appraisal of the validity of each speaker and the veracity of their memory The result is a reconstructed time capsule of the making of the Back to the Future trilogy, by those who were there to have experienced itAs my interview process progressed, I began to realize that this project isnt simply about the making of one film trilogy, but is also about how some of the titans in the movie industry came into being Even readers who are only casual fans of the films will find interesting pieces of information about the movie business, from the perspective of some of Hollywoods best At your leisure, look at the list of credits that Future alumni amassed prior to and since working on the films While you may not recognize every persons name, virtually everyone I spoke with worked on other movies that have received a substantial bit of attention over the years, such as Avatar, Blade Runner, Fight Club, One Flew Over the Cuckoos Nest, Star Wars The Force Awakens, the original Superman franchise, and Titanic, to name just a few They are incredibly talented visionaries, some of whom were already veterans when filming began in , and others who were just getting started in the business Regardless of their previous experience, they worked together to make a truly timeless film about time travelWhat follows is an amalgamation of their trutha profile not only of a film series but, as I was reminded when I spent a half hour on memory lane with Zemeckis, of the beautifully normal and ordinary people whose creativity and passion produced an extraordinary trilogy Some of the decisions they made were unconventional, yet they paid off, despite the odds The trilogy has forever changed the landscape of cinema by redefining what a summer blockbuster could be, who could star in one, and under what improbable circumstances a trio of films could have a major impact around the world You may not believe Back to the Future is the most important film trilogy of all time now, but after reading this book I bet you willSo buckle up, because if my calculations are correct, when this baby hits eighty eight miles per hour, youre going to see some serious shit THINK, MCFLY, THINKSunday, December , Filming had only been under way for less than a month, but already something wasnt quite right On what should have been his day off, Robert Zemeckis made his way into the double wide trailer that would remain parked behind the Amblin Entertainment compound for the next several months Since all the editing rooms inside the studio offices were delegated to other projects, Steven Spielberg had arranged for coeditors Arthur Schmidt and Harry Keramidas to make the temporary structure their permanent workspace as they pieced together Back to the Future, Universal Pictures film scheduled for release Memorial Day weekendThe director made his way through the bullpen, which normally would have been buzzing with assistants and apprentices filing film trims and outtakes into the large cardboard boxes that lined the wall But because it was a weekend, it was a virtual ghost town, with the exception of the two other living souls in the building, Schmidt and Keramidas The editors were tucked away in the formers makeshift office, seated in front of a modestly sized monitor Next to them sat a chairthe most comfortable chair in the officethat remained empty except during these visits from Zemeckis Increasingly, these meetings had become fairly commonplace by this point in the shooting schedule, weeks after their Novemberstart date The production team expected principal photography to wrap after about twenty two weeks of filming, meaning there would be fewer than three months between the last shot being captured and Futures late May release date As if the timeline werent tight enough to begin with, there were several optical effects that would have to be added in postproduction by George Lucass Industrial Light Magic ILM , further constricting the scheduleTo expedite the process, Zemeckis would come into the cutting room at the end of his shooting days and on weekends to look at scenes in the process of being put together Zemeckis grew to trust his editors, especially Artie, who had been nominated for an Academy Award a few years prior for his work onCoal Miners Daughter, another Universal release His meticulous editing skills led him to be hired after a serendipitous meeting a few months earlier I was working on a film at Paramount called Firstborn, and we had two young teenage boys in the movie, he says, likely referring to Christopher Collet and Robert Downey, Jr Bob was looking everywhere for somebody to play Marty He called up the director, Michael Apted, and asked if he could see some film of the two boys Michael didnt want to let the film out of the cutting room because he was still shooting, and I was close cutting it as we went along, so he asked Bob to come look at the film on the editing machine with just meZemeckis went over with his producers Bob Gale and Neil Canton to watch the three or four scenes Artie had prepared in advance The editor ran the film, which, afterward, was met by silence It seemingly grew louder by the second, until the visitors heard it broken by their hostWhat do you think I dont think either one of those boys is right for Marty McFly, Zemeckis said But I really like the way those scenes were edited Schmidts face filled with color, embarrassed that he may have been perceived as fishing for a compliment when he was merely trying to speed up the session and get back to work He thanked the director for the kind words and the group went on their way The seemingly inconsequential meeting took on new importance when, about three weeks later, Bob Z called for the editor to come over to his office at Universal for an interview Schmidt went and was hiredA second sit down between Zemeckis and Schmidt soon followed When there was a lull in the conversation, the editor asked who was cast in the role of Marty, since neither of the young actors they had scouted that fateful day was a match So far we havent decided, Bob Z said The guy that I really want is He walked over to the coffee table in his office and picked up a teen magazine, which he opened to a page with a large photograph of a young heartthrob on it Thats the guy that I really want to have to play Marty, he said, pointing at the picture But hes not available because hes doing his TV showArtie didnt know it at the time, but the search for the perfect Marty McFly was an arduous endeavor When Universal Pictures green lighted the film, the Bobs immediately set out to fill the pivotal role of Futures protagonist Although he wasnt in their minds as they wrote the screenplay, once it was finished, they both felt strongly that Michael J Fox would make the perfect leading man Today it seems that Fox was born to play Marty, but that was not the case when casting was under way in midYes, the Canadian actor was the linchpin of the popular television sitcom Family Ties, but to date he had only appeared in two major motion picturesDisneysflop Midnight Madness and the moderately successfulfilm Class of , a film with a subtitle that foreshadowed the actors eventual career defining role We are the future and nothing can stop us In the late summer of , even before the request was made to Michael Apted that resulted in Schmidts hiring, Steven Spielberg called his friend, Family Ties producer Gary David Goldberg, to ask that Fox read the script and consider screen testing for the role Spielberg and Goldberg had met in , after Kathleen Kennedy, who was the formers assistant and the latters old friend from college, introduced the two While Spielberg was in London filming Raiders of the Lost Ark, Goldberg was flown overseas to join him, as the two were collaborating on a screenplay that was ultimately unmade called Reel to Reel, a semiautobiographical musical about a first time director making a science fiction film By the time Future was in preproduction, the two were not only friends, but also neighborsthey both owned beach houses within close proximity of each other in Malibuand professional allies Spielberg was one of the first people to see a rough cut of the Family Ties pilot back in , and without any puffery, he told his friend that the show was guaranteed to be a hit and that his precocious actor playing the teenage son Alex was going to be a major star When Zemeckis made it clear that Fox topped his short list of actors for Marty, Spielberg volunteered to give Goldberg a call directly, bypassing the traditional route of phoning an agent to broker a dealAfter a cursory perusal of the screenplay, the television titan decided that Fox wasnt going to be given the pages Goldberg loved what he read and saw the potential for the film to be a successbut that threatened to derail all he had established with his sitcom The show was experiencing a meteoric rise in the Nielsen ratings, from forty ninth place in its first season into the top five within a three year span, thanks in large part to The Cosby Show providing a strong lead in When Meredith Baxter, who played matriarch Elyse Keaton on the show, was pregnant with twins, the shows scripts were modified to relyheavily on Foxs character The twenty three year old actor, who still had a boyish face and youthful demeanor, became a star, true to Spielbergs prediction, which led to increased attention for the show and teen magazine spreads like the one Zemeckis had on display in his office Goldberg was confident that Fox would be interested in working on the film, thus distracting him and threatening the shows popularity He wanted to help his friend, but Michael J Fox, he said, was off limits The search for Marty McFly would have to continueSo it did As disappointed as the Bobs were with Foxs lack of availability, they were determined to press on and find the best second choice possible Nothing about getting Back to the Future off the ground had been easy to that point, and as far as they were concerned, this was just the latest setback that they needed to overcome in the same way they always took on their problemstogetherThe two had met on the first day of their Cinemaclass in the fall semester ofat the University of Southern Californias School of Cinematic Arts A fast friendship soon followed We were among a handful of undergraduates in a mostly graduate class, Gale says We quickly discovered we had similar tastes in film Bob was the only person Id ever met who, like me, owned the soundtrack to The Great EscapeThey soon realized that, while the majority of their classmates were absorbed with the idea of creating highbrow cinema, they wereinterested in making movies that average joes would want to see More often than not, their free time was spent catching a showing of Dirty Harry or the latest James Bond flick, not discussing the leitmotifs throughout Akira Kurosawas career Movies, they believed, should be entertaining to the general public first and foremost the added benefit would come when a person reflected on what they had just watched, and realized that there wasthan they initially thought had met their eye Zemeckis had aspirations of being a film director, while Gale dreamed of being a writer, and they decided to develop their common love for moviemaking as a team Before graduation, they collaborated on each others student films, including s The Lift and s A Field of Honor, as well as a screenplay for a horror movie Gale conceived about vampiric prostitutes, Bordello of Blood, which, little did they know at the time, would be turned into a moviethan two decades later with a completely rewritten screenplay by A L Katz and Gilbert AdlerTheir goal was for Bordello to become the first feature they would make together The two continued to refine the script over their first postgraduate summer, but in order to get a foot in the door, they thought they might try their hand at television Bob Z took to hanging around Universal Studios, having heard the legend that Steven Spielberg had done the same when he was a young wannabe filmmaker with a dream similar to Zemeckiss Spielberg, the story goes, hung around the studios so much that he was eventually assumed to have been on contract and was offered a directing giga tall tale that makes for great Hollywood lore While following in his idols fabricated footsteps, Zemeckis overheard that the television show Kolchak The Night Stalker was nearing cancellation, and established veteran writers were stepping away from the show Perhaps, he thought, that could provide an opening for two hungry twentysomethings to try their hand at getting one of their stories on the air The duo banged out a nine page story treatment for an episode over a few weeks, which Universal purchased It was the first moment of affirmation that their shared dream of being filmmakers just might come true, and that they might prove their skeptical parents wrong when it happenedSuccess knocked swiftly twiceThe Bobs wrote an episode for McCloud that was optionedindustry jargon for a producer officially reserving the right, for an agreed upon time, to purchase a script at a later dateand another script for Get Christie Love , a short lived series perhaps best remembered now as being name checked in the opening sequence of Quentin Tarantinos Reservoir Dogs Universal saw potential in the Bobs to be great television writers and offered them a seven year contract to pen for some of the companys NBC shows, netting each half of the team , a year through the length of the agreement Gales father, who, like Zemeckiss parents, already thought his son was nuts for enrolling at USC with the hopes of becoming a professional filmmaker, was convinced he had raised an idiot when he was told that the Bobs, under the advice of their recently acquired agents and lawyers, were declining the dealInstead of relying on that steady paycheck, the two abandoned television and decided instead to concentrate on their big screen aspirations They finished another screenplay they wrote on spec named Tank and brought it to fellow USC alum John Milius, an uncredited cowriter of the first two Dirty Harry films and Jaws, who was just a few years away from receiving an Academy Award nomination for his Apocalypse Now screenplay The writer was under contract at Metro Goldwyn Mayer MGM with a deal to direct two films and produce two others He was taken with the Bobs screenplay, but thought they might have a better idea They pitched another story they had been kicking around, a period comedy set in Los Angeles immediately after the start of World War II By the end of the meeting, Milius agreed to produce the film, based primarily on the strength of their well developed concept and enthusiasm After the Bobs expanded their idea into a formal script, Milius pitched the film to Spielberg, who was already well acquainted with Zemeckis The director bit, andbegan its trek to productionBob Zs relationship and friendship with Spielberg began when the former was a student at USC and the latter visited the campus to screen his first film, The Sugarland Express Zemeckis attended the screening, approached Spielberg afterward, and asked if the director would like to see hisstudent film, A Field of Honor, for which Zemeckis had won a Student Academy Award Within a few days, the two were watching the fourteen minute short at Spielbergs office While Spielberg was still years away from becoming a household name at the time of his visit to USC, the director was already establishing a reputation as someone to watch Sid Sheinberg, who was vice president of production for Universals television division at the time, saw Spielbergsstudent film Amblin, which later inspired the name of the directors production company, and offered him a long term directing deal Althoughfollowed the success of Jaws and Close Encounters of the Third Kind, it failed to replicate those films profitability at the box office The movie became Spielbergs first to not recoup its budget in domestic box office gross, though it did return a profit on the studios investment with overseas markets factored inWhilewas in production, Spielberg signed on to executive produce I Wanna Hold Your Hand, a screenplay the Bobs wrote and which Universal picked up This time Zemeckis would direct The movie was released in , and two years later Columbia Pictures released their second film, Used Cars The Bobs put their hearts and souls into both, but while critics loved them, as with , the movies failed to connect with the general public It wasnt that Hand and Used Cars werent well receivedwe had dynamite sneak previews for both, Gale says We simply never had audiences show up on opening dayZemeckiss early films he made with his writing partner Bob Gale just have such an incredible kinetic energy, film critic Leonard Maltin says They seem to be supercharged with adrenaline Thats what I think about first and foremost I love Used Cars, and Ill never understand really why that didnt becomeEven over the years it never really built the following that it deserves, but I dont know why Is it too snarky Too cynical I dont know Maybe just the name Used Cars connotes something that people dont find appealingAlthough Columbia Pictures only made a minuscule profit on Used Cars, with the movie earningmillion against anmillion budget, Frank Price, the head of the studio, wasnt ready to give up on the two young filmmakers The movie had received the highest ratings in test screenings in the studios history, and what did it matter that few people saw it, really Those who did thought it was hilariousthe studio head included Shortly after the film was released, Price asked the Bobs to bring their next idea to him as soon as they had onewhich, as it turned out, was sooner than expected, as an idea had been marinating between the two filmmakersJust a few weeks before Price approached them, Bob G was in his hometown of St Louis to do some publicity for Used Cars and attend the local premiere of his film While visiting his parents house, he discovered his fathersUniversity City High School yearbook Before he was the patriarch of the Gale family, Bobs father was the senior class president, a fact the filmmaker hadnt known until he stumbled across his dads black and white photo As Bob stared at the face on the printed page, he realized his own time as a student must have been very different from his fathers The younger Gale, who graduated from the same school in , would never have run for student government Although he achieved straight As, he wasnt one of the eggheads He loved musicnot rock and roll, like some of the other students, but movie scores His spare time was spent reading comic books or science fiction novels, making movies, or working in the art studio Girls were interesting but expensive, so he didnt date until his senior year As a student, he had a wide range of interests, but making speeches in front of his peers and hanging up GO WITH GALE or BET ON BOB posters in the hallways was not among them The young filmmakers mind went into overdrive while he stared at his fathers yearbook photo He couldnt help but wonder If he and his father had attended school at the same time, would they have been friends The Bobs had been trying to come up with a time travel story since theyd begun collaborating on scripts, having both been influenced heavily by H G Wellss The Time Machine, as well as Rod Serlings The Twilight Zone television series, but couldnt come up with an original idea worthy of being told However, as Gale packed the yearbook away, he thought he had come up with the germ of a great idea When he returned to Los Angeles, he shared his thought with his collaborator Zemeckis saw the potential in the concept and started adding his own extemporaneous suggestions into the mix What if your mom, who always said she had never kissed a boy while a teenager, was actually the school slutThey quickly fleshed out some additional details of their story and brought the idea to Frank PriceIt took the studio head less than three minutes to realize that their project was a winner During the pitch, Gale sensed that Price was interested, but it took Zemeckis a bit longer to read the tea leaves The directors enthusiasm led him to prattle on with minor plot details and gags that the duo had come up with After a few minutes of monologue, his partner gave him a nudge, stopping Bob Z just long enough for the two to be offered a development deal at Columbia to expand their idea into a screenplayWithin a few days, the two got to work Bob and I always sat in the same room, usually our office, and talked through everything, Gale says We would first outline the movie on index cards and put them up on a corkboard on the wall Once we had a structure and plan for the film, wed start with the first scene and talk it through Wed work out the dialogue in each scene together, and Id make detailed notesIt was a true collaboration, Zemeckis adds We were very much in sync, and when a good idea got sparked, it was pretty much just back and forth, talking everything through We said everything that came to our minds we were never worried that we might be saying something that wasnt a good idea or a valid idea Anything that we thought of, we would run it up the flagpole for the other guy because you just never know You never know what might spark another ideaBecause I could type and Bob couldnt, each night Id type up the days work into script form, Gale continues When we started writing the first draft, I was using a manual typewriter which Id had since I was a college freshman and I still have to this day I dont recall if I made carbon copies as I typed, or if we xeroxed the pages the next day Either way, the result was that Bob Z had a copy of what I typed up We moved into the next scene, and when I was typing that days work, Bob would review the typed pages Id given him that morning, making notes, revisions, whatever I never read what I typed until there was a complete script That way, I could read it from beginning to end and get a sense of the pace, which Bob could not do, since he dealt with it scene by sceneThis process continued until, on February the two completed the first draft of Back to the Future While the main crux of the story that materialized on screen is presentboy has crackpot inventor friend, crackpot inventor has time machine, boy is accidentally sent back in time and disrupts his parents first meetingthere are several significant differences between that screenplay and what made it to the screen In this script, Marty McFly was a video pirate, running a secret black market operation with his friend Professornot DocBrown, who had a pet chimpanzee named Shemp His girlfriends name is Suzy, his mothers is Eileen, Marty travels back to , and his parents have their first kiss while the band Lester the Moonlighters plays Eddie Fisherssingle Turn Back the Hands of Time at the Springtime in Paris danceFrank Price still thought the general conceit of the movie was good, but believed the screenplay was too rough around the edges The Bobs, ever hopeful, went back to their office with index cards in tow Inevitably, our opinion regarding our own first rough draft was that it was terrible, Gale says This was true with every script wed ever written We proceeded to revise, deconstruct, and overhaul the workA second draft was completed on AprilPrice thought their second go around was better, but he passed on giving Future the green light Used Cars was a raunchy comedy, Zemeckiss only R rated film until s Flight, and Price was hoping the Bobs would bring him another picture that fit that mold A quaint movie about a kid trying to fix up his parents might make a good film, but as far as Price was concerned, he didnt know anyone besides himself who would be interested in seeing it The script was given back to the filmmakers in what is known in the industry as a turnaround deal, an arrangement whereby a studiofor example, Universalcan purchase the rights to a script developed at another studiolike Columbiaso the original studio can recoup their initial investmentWhich was precisely what happened The Bobs were free to take their script to other movie studios, which initially proved to be less than fruitful From Paramount to Universal, th Century Fox to Warner Bros every executive they met with asked them a variation of the same question What about StevenSpielberg was interested in executive producing Futurehe saw the potential in Zemeckis and Gales script and the ingenuity of their ideabut the Hollywood heavyweight was asked to stand down during the pitch process The Bobs liked working with him, but their first two films had underperformed They were afraid that if that precedent continued, they would never be given an opportunity to make another for a major studio Even worse, they would be perceived among those in the industry as two people who scored undeserved opportunities to waste studio money because of their friendship with one of the most profitable directors of the past decade Thus, Zemeckis asked his friend for some space in an attempt to prove he could stand on his own two feetAs the Bobs continued to shop the film around to every studio in Hollywood and back again, they frequently heard that Futures script was too saccharine to attract the rebellious youth of the s Although history would ultimately prove them wrong, one cant fault the uniform thought process of notoriously risk averse film executives In the four years that it took for the duo to convince a studio to finance and release their picture, R rated teen comedies like Fast Times at Ridgemont High, Porkys, and Risky Business were all huge hits at the box office Not only that, but three time travel films also hit cinemas The Final Countdown, Somewhere in Time, and Time Banditsand only the latter was a modest success The record was set and well corroborated raunchy comedies made money time travel movies did not All of the studios passed on it primarily for those reasons, except for Tom Wilhite, the vice president in charge of development for feature films and television at the Walt Disney Company, who had his own complaints The suit was appalled by the scene with Marty and his teenage mother sharing a brief, awkward kiss in Docs yellow Packard convertible The movie was officially a nonstartertoo provocative for Disney and not provocative enough for any other studioAlthough the Bobs both hoped to see Back to the Future made, reality soon set in It was nice to continue to pursue a dream, but it was better to have money so they could eat The Bobs got an opportunity to set up Gangland, a gangster movie for a short lived feature film division of the ABC television network, but about five weeks into preproduction the company killed the picture The project wasnt one that either Bob was particularly jazzed about, but it was the final straw for Zemeckis He was tired of running on the hamster wheeldeveloping an idea, writing a script, pitching to studios, and then repeating the process, only to watch a green light go red, or fail to turn green at all He informed his partner that he would direct the next decent script that came by Gale understood No hard feelingsAs if he spoke it into being, a screenplay that appealed to Zemeckiss interests soon landed in his lap He was offered to direct Michael Douglas, Kathleen Turner, and Danny DeVito in s Romancing the Stone, a romantic comedy action film about a woman from the big city embarking on an adventure that takes her through the jungles of Colombia The film, which marked the directors first collaboration with Dean Cundey, was shot primarily on location in Mexico Although the director and cinematographer got on well, the shoot was occasionally problematic, with Turner frequently becoming frustrated with Zemeckiss style of directing She thought he was a bright eyed kid fresh out of film school,preoccupied with the cameras and special effects than he was attentive to his actors The director not only failed to impress his leading lady, but he,detrimentally, failed to win any accolades from the studio executives at th Century FoxHe wasnt the Bob Zemeckis that we all know now, with all the fabulous films He had made those other two movies, which, financially, had not done well at all, Clyde E Bryan, who served as first assistant cameraman on Romancing the Stone, says Instead, the studio executives were counting on a picture called Rhinestone to be a huge hit It was with Dolly Parton and Sylvester Stallone It was an awful combination, a terrible movie They put tons and tons and tons of money into that movie They spent almost no money on Romancing the Stone, and at one point they had sent the bonds people down there to pull the plug on it It was, at that time, not a very expensive movie, nine or ten million dollars They just had no idea about how it would performIt was kind of a different film for the period, Cundey says When they saw the first rough cut of Romancing the Stone, one of the guys at the studio said that he thought the film was unreleasable While the director continued to work with his editors on the final cut and reshoots, the bottom was falling out beneath him He was pegged to direct another film for Fox, the science fiction fantasy film Cocoon, but after the producers of that project received a tip that Romancing the Stone was anticipated to perform poorly in theaters, Zemeckis was fired It was clear Zemeckiss chances were running out He needed a hit or he would be denied any further opportunities to direct another motion picture for a major studioThen, despite the forecast, the sky opened up Romancing the Stone was released in theaters on March earning a respectablemillion in its opening weekend The following week it performed even better Contrary to industry expectations, the movie was not only a financial success, but it was Foxs only hit of the year By the time the film ended its theatrical run, it had grossed overmillion domestically, nearly four times what Rhinestone brought in Almost instantaneously, Zemeckis became a director in demand, with Back to the Future becoming a hot property by extension The Bobs were back and it was no longer a question of whether or not their time travel movie would see the light of day The only question was which studio would be financing itZemeckis didnt want to give any of his fair weather Hollywood friends who had rejected Future over the preceding years the courtesy of producing his picture The answer, then, was to go back to the only person who had believed in the project from the startSteven Spielberg He had recently entered the record books with ET the Extra Terrestrial, which had bankedmillion to surpass Star Wars as the highest grossing film of all time Although his stature in the industry had risen dramatically since hed first read the Bobs Future script, the producer still wanted in Back to the Future became the first project set up at Amblin Entertainment that Steven Spielberg would not direct himselfa testament to the trust the mentor had in his menteeAfter joining the Back to the Future team, the executive producer pitched the project to Universal, where the Amblin offices were located Serendipitously, Frank Price was now president after having left Columbia inSpielberg held a grudge against the executive for passing on ET when he was still at his previous movie company, and stated that if Universal wanted to be a part of Back to the Future, Price would have to be involved as minimally as possible Frank Price never had an intimate relationship with Steven, Sid Sheinberg says He was very much under the influence of a fellow by the name of Marvin Antonowsky who came from the world of research The problem with the world of research is that sometimes you come to the wrong conclusions In a highly unusual move, Sheinberg appointed himself to chief executive in charge of looking out for the studios investment in the film After four years of rejections, the Bobs finally got the green light they had been hoping forWith the ball finally rolling, a production team had to be rounded out With Spielberg came Frank Marshall and his former assistant Kathleen Kennedy, two producers who, in , cofounded Amblin after they achieved success with Raiders of the Lost Ark Although the Bobs had a relationship with Spielberg, it was clear that this was a project that would have interested the Amblin Trio even if it had arrived at their offices unsolicited I thought the screenplay was terrific, Frank Marshall says I couldnt understand why no one wanted to make it Its one of the best scripts Id ever readFrank Marshall suggested Neil Canton join the team, whom he had previously worked with on s Whats Up, DocHe had this script and asked me if I would read it, Canton says I read it, loved it, called him the next day, and told him It made me laugh I was moved by it The idea of a time travel story was something that I totally was in love with Later that day, Canton, Zemeckis, and Gale met for lunch in Burbank The three hit it off and the production team was completeCaseen Gaines has written a very compelling and enjoyable history of our trilogy For me, reading it was like going back in time And Great Scott there were even a few anecdotes that I d never heard Bob Gale, co creator, co producer, and co writer of the Back to the Future trilogy The most enlightening and informative book I ve read since Grays Sports Almanac Every true fan of the Holy Trilogy should own a copy It s your density Ernest Cline, DeLorean owner Author of Ready Player OneWe Don t Need Roadsis the truly fascinating story of how one of America s greatest movie franchises came to be Caseen Gaines in depth research and unprecedented look at Robert Zemeckis series proves that the journey to make a perfect movie is anything but perfect It s a must read for any true Back to the Futurelover and anyone who wants to peek behind the curtain to see how films get made Adam F Goldberg, creator of ABC s The Goldbergs Read this book, then watch the movie for the umpteenth time You ll appreciate Back to the Future all thethanks to Caseen Gaines muscular reporting and conversational writing style Michael Davis, New York Times bestselling author of Street Gang The Complete History of Sesame Street What fun Deeply researched and engagingly written, Caseen Gaines We Don t Need Roads is the book Back to the Future fans have been craving for decades Geekily enthusiastic and chock full of never before heard tales of what went on both on and off the screen, We Don t Need Roads is a book worthy of the beloved trilogy itself Brian Jay Jones, New York Times bestselling author of Jim Henson The BiographyImpressively exhaustive We Don t Need Roads is an enthusiastic and thorough oral history NPRA must read for Future fans, media studies students, aspiring filmmakers, and time travel buffs Library Journal An incredibly revealing look at a film series that helped change Hollywoodif you love movies, you should pick this book up io Even if you are a hardcore fan, this book can at times feel like a revelation like hitting ones head on the edge of a toilet and suddenly understanding flux capacitors revelations Film School Rejects Even the most knowledgeable Futurefans will find much to learn from this intricately detailed and exhaustively researched book But it s not just the depth of Gaines s knowledge and the scope of his interviews that impresses he clearly adores these films and understands their importance to popular cinema, and that love and understanding shines through the text Jason Bailey,author of Pulp Fiction The Complete Story of Quentin Tarantino s Masterpiece The th anniversary of the Back to the Futuretrilogy is the perfecttime for a book celebrating and examining the greatest comedy sciencefiction time travel trilogy ever made With over five hundred hours ofinterviews with key cast and crew members, Caseen Gaines book is adelightful way to travel back to the future and relive those wonderfultimes with Marty McFly, his family, friends, and enemies not tomention the inimitable Doc Brown Strap into your DeLorean and getready for the ride of your life Marc Scott Zicree, author of TheTwilight Zone Companion We Dont Need Roadsis essential for any Back To the Future fanNot only does Caseen Gaines offer up a meticulously crafted and entertaining account of one of the most beloved time traveling franchises in movie history, but heuses his access to take an incisive look behind the scenes of Hollywood filmmaking A must read for all pop culture aficionados Larry Landsman, author of Planet of the Apes Revisited